A St. Louis man recently arrested for shooting two Ferguson police officers, has been criticized by a local pastor for making local protesters "look bad."
Jeffrey Williams, 20, reportedly admitted to firing the shots that struck two officers outside of the Ferguson police department during protests on March 12, but he insists that they were not his target.
He reportedly identified himself as a protester during his arrest even though he is not, which has upset local activists. During a press conference, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said Williams is a "frequent protester" and Bishop Derrick Robinson asked Williams about this claim.
"I asked him why would he say that he was a protester because it makes us look bad -- because so many things that we've done to rebuild our community," Robinson told CNN. "It sets us like five steps back to say that it was a protester who did it, but he admitted to me that he'd never protested."
One of the injured officers was shot in the face, while the other was hit in the shoulder. Both have since been released from hospital.
Williams, who had a .40-caliber handgun seized from his home by police, is charged with two counts of first-degree assault, a count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal activity.
He claims he was actually targeting a robber not police and is being held on a cash-only $300,000 bond.
"It's possible he was firing at someone else," McCulloch said, urging any other witnesses with information to come forward.
Ferguson protests have regularly taken place since the Aug. 9, 2014 shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown due to civil unrest. Local activists are demanding justice in the form of ending police brutality.
Meanwhile a lawyer for Williams claims his client was brutally beaten by police in custody, although they deny the allegations. His mugshot appears to show him with welts and bruises on his face and neck.
"He was beat up by the police," said attorney Jerryl Christmas. "He was beaten when he was taken into custody."
A St. Louis Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman denied the claim in a statement.
"With regard to the allegations that Jeffrey Williams was 'beaten' by police, the St. Louis County Police Department calls these allegations completely false," Schellman said.